March 2016Vol. 17, No. 1Special Focus: African-American History
Last month was African-American History Month. From the first celebration of Negro History Week in 1926, the sacrifices, struggles, and accomplishments of African-Americans have been honored annually. By the middle of the 20th century, Negro History Week had become a central part of African-American life. The civil rights movement of the 1960s propelled Black history forward, leading to national African-American History Month in 1976. In this month's CBX, we bring attention to the strengths African-American children, youth, and families have and the challenges they can face when receiving child welfare services.
African-Americans are disproportionally represented in child welfare systems. African-American families have many strengths that can be built upon to reduce disproportionality, including strong kinship relationships, flexibility and adaptability of family roles, and a strong orientation toward achievement for not only themselves and their families, but the collective advancement of African-Americans.1
In addition to drawing on these strengths, child welfare professionals can use diligent recruitment practices to help locate homes for African-American children in the child welfare system. Diligent recruitment is more than just the practice of recruiting a diverse resource family population. It is also recruiting and developing homes, including relative homes, which could accommodate siblings and allow children and youth to stay in their schools.2
Child welfare professionals can leverage these strengths, coupled with cultural competency and diligent recruitment practices, to create positive outcomes for the African-American children, youth, and families who come into contact with child welfare. For more information on disproportionality, cultural competence, and tips for working with African-American families, see the following resources:
- Learn about Cultural Competence and Disproportionality from these Child Welfare Information Gateway web sections at https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/systemwide/cultural/ and https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/systemwide/cultural/disproportionality/.
- Working With African-American Adoptive, Foster, and Kinship Families is a guide created by AdoptUSKids to help child welfare professionals in their work with prospective and current African-American resource families and is available at http://adoptuskids.org/_assets/files/NRCRRFAP/resources/working-with-african-american-families.pdf (92 KB).
- Finding African-American Families for Foster Children: Tips for Workers and Agencies offers several tips about recruiting and working with African-American families, ranging from taking the time to build trust in a community to being sure to tailor services and education to the population. It is available at http://www.nacac.org/adoptalk/findingfamilies.html.
- Homes for Black Children: Nurturing the Resiliency in Wayne County Families: Rethinking the Family Decision-Making Model as Community-Centered Child and Family Work shares information on a project funded by a Children's Bureau Family Connection grant to provide family group decision-making and other well-being services to African-American families at risk of having their children enter the foster care system or who have experienced recent reunification with their children. It is available at https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/homesforblackchildren.pdf (241 KB).
1 AdoptUSKids. (2012). Working With African-American Adoptive, Foster, and Kinship Families. Retrieved from http://adoptuskids.org/_assets/files/NRCRRFAP/resources/working-with-african-american-families.pdf (5 MB).
2 National Resource Center for Diligent Recruitment. (2014). What is diligent recruitment? Retrieved from http://www.nrcdr.org/_assets/files/NRCRRFAP/resources/what-is-diligent-recruitment.pdf (92 KB).